Fnatic vs Hanwha Life Esports
The 2021 LoL World Championship group stage is finally here, and to start things off, we have a most exciting clash between the former kings of Europe Fnatic and the fourth-best team from the LCK Hanwha Life Esports. This is neither the most premier match-up one can imagine nor will it go down in history for its importance, but it's still a wholly interesting clash that's bound to deliver in all the right ways.
Moreover, it'll give us a good first look at Fnatic and their current power level. Unlike Hanwha, they've yet to take the stage in Reykjavik, Iceland, which means we simply cannot know whether they'll enter the gates swinging for the fences or perhaps employ a more cautious, reserved approach. On the one hand, this is Fnatic we're talking about, so non-stop aggression and mindless skirmishing are all but guaranteed, but they might want to take things slow in the beginning — a feeling out process, if you will. Even the best teams in the world need a bit of time to acclimate, and Fnatic should be no different in that regard.
They've been slotted into a fairly favorable group, so they definitely have a shot at making it out. Still, it's not going to come easy, and they'll no doubt have to fight tooth and nail to get out and advance further into the tournament. That's why this particular match is so darn important. Hanwha Life are by no means going to win Worlds, but they're talented, capable, and fairly seasoned too. Plus, with Chovy and Deft they simply have to be respected almost by default. Will that suffice against a team as unhinged and mechanically gifted as Fnatic? We're not so sure, as most LCK teams struggled mightily over the years with LEC's more aggressive, bravado-fuelled style of play.
Fnatic have all the right tools to beat Hanwha Life and start their Worlds run with a "W." Whether that'll happen still remains to be seen, but we're optimistic — they've earned our benefit of the doubt after a series of dominant showings back in Europe. And, well, they'll need to beat both Hanwha and Team Liquid (as often as possible) if they want to reach the Knockout Stage as they're not exactly favored against PSG Talon. They might be able to beat the PCS champions as well, but if PSG's level of play at this year's Mid-Season Invitational is anything to go by, they're pretty much a shoo-in for Top 8.
So, that's by no means a guaranteed triumph, which means that Fnatic will have to rack up their wins elsewhere. We've seen both good things and bad from Hanwha during their Play-Ins run, and while they definitely had a bunch of exceptional moments and flashes of brilliance, they weren't exactly as clean or commanding as most of us expected. They got the job done, fortunately, but those small mistakes and openings will no doubt be exploited by the best teams in the world. Be that as it may, they're not to be trifled with.
We'll side with Fnatic on this one but seeing how it's the very start of the Group Stage, we'd be remiss if we didn't say that basically anything can happen.